The Huyskens van Riel Story (part 3)
HUYSKENS VAN RIEL (PART 3)
Another important pigeon brought in by Huyskens van Riel was ‘De Witzwinger van 1936’, acquired from Louis Michielsen. He was mated to ‘het Boerinneke’ and out of this pairing ‘de Steek’ was produced who in turn became the father of ‘de Zot.’ ‘De Zot’ was born in 1946, the same year as the three brothers ‘de Late Bange’, ‘de Grote Lichte’ and ‘de Verroeste’ first saw the light of day. These famous brothers had ‘de Bange’ as their father and ‘de Gestuikte duivin’ from van den Bosch as their mother. Nowhere else will you find a reference, in reports or write-ups on Huyskens van Riel, to ‘de Gestuikte duivin’ or the other van den Bosche pigeons. We can’t blame the reporters. Both van Riel and his partner, as they say, sworn on their deaths that they wouldn’t mention their new introductions, with which they were so successful, to anyone.
‘de Late Bange’, one of the three brothers won:
Angoulême 610 pigeons 3rd
Le Bourget 999 pigeons 3rd
Angouleme 4,325 pigeons 7th
Libourne 2,311 pigeons 7th
libourne 2,431 pigeons 4th
International Pau 1,096 pigeons 10th and numerous other top prizes.
You can see that these were all long distance races. The other performances of these tremendous brothers we’ll leave out, but we do want to mention that van Riel travelled to Gent with ‘de Grote Lichte’ and ‘de Late Bange’ to enter them in an Interprovincial race from Angouleme. They arrived together, and against around two thousand pigeons, they won the 4th and the 5th prize.
But as mentioned earlier, Huyskens van Riel in 1946 bred a basket full of top pigeons. One of them was the ‘16’ a son of the aforementioned ‘Steek,’ who in turn was out of the ‘Boerinneke.’
-The ‘16’ as a yearling won 18 prizes, one for each race flown. Among them a 1st from St. Quentin, not quite 200 km, but also the 8th from Limoges (2,805 pigeons), the 13th from Orleans (1,039 pigeons), the 10th from Angouleme (4,520 pigeons, the 24th from Libourne (2,331 pigeons), the 3rd from St. Vincent (1,637 pigeons) and the 12th from International Barcelona against 3,300 pigeons. He never missed, he flew at the top from 100 to 1,000 km!
-‘De Steek’ himself (a son of ‘Boerinneke’) won no less than for first prized in Union Antwerp. He was purchased by the Dutchman Piet de Weerd.
-‘De Bliksem’ a brother of ‘de Steek’ also won four first prizes in Union Antwerp. -‘De Wittekop’ was the least well know of the 46-ers, but not because he was not as good. As a yearling, he won 20 prizes out of the 21 races entered.
- About other star racers such as ‘de Jonge Vendome;’ ‘Zotteke and ‘de Baard’, we’ll write further later. What many champions in the pigeon sport have in common is that they are never satisfied, Jef van Riel was one of them. He already had, with the descendants of ‘de Boerinneke’ and her brother ‘de Bange,’ almost unbeatable pigeons under his roof, but his hunger for better was not yet satisfied.
In the area, he flew, there was one pigeon Jef van Riel feared, a pigeon who answered to the name, ‘de Vendome.’ This pigeon had won the 1st prize in Union Antwerp from Vendome in heavy weather, and van Riel couldn’t rest till he owned him. He was settled to his new loft and… won the 1st Provincial in the very tough race from Saint Vincent, 1,000 km. That day only one pigeon made it home, ‘de Vendome’ and…Huyskens van Riel had just entered one pigeon. He won 5th National. He was paired to a van den Bosch hen and that pairing produced: ‘de Jonge Vendome,’ that was of course in 1946!
Later the ‘Jonge Vendome’ would be purchased by Hector de Smet. Who either sold or gave a youngster out of him to Catrijsse it would become the father of ‘de Witte-kele,’ ‘de 90’ and ‘de Draaier’; All three of them won a 1st National for Catrijsse!!
The performances of the Huyskens van Riel pigeons, directly after the war were unprecedented, but beauties these pigeons definitely were not. Jef van Riel only cared about two things, their origin and their performance, the rest was of secondary importance. Small, large, wing, back? Those were all things that did not matter to him. Only pigeons with a bad throat had to be removed relentlessly.
So it could happen that sometimes pigeons were bred that ‘didn’t look like much,’ such as: -‘Het Zottek’ from, you guessed it, 1946. It was an unbelievably small cock and was entered last marked pigeon for Orleans in 1947. It was real pigeon weather that day and the most favoured to win that day was one Louis Bogaerts from Willebroek.
Huyskens van Riel had the best pigeons, no one disagreed, but Bogaerts had a pigeon that could rival them ‘on a tough day.’ The day came, the birds were released from Orleans, and the good one for Bogaerts was home, really early! But, it not soon enough, it seemed. ‘Het Zotteke’ outshone the favourite for the win. Bogaerts was so impressed that in the famed ‘Koffiehuis’ in Antwerp, he suggested to van Riel that he should sell the pigeon to him. “A pigeon so good that it could beat my champion must be a super pigeon,” said Bogaerts and he offered 5,000 Bfrs. ‘Okay, he is yours’ said van Riel, ‘but, I’m afraid that when you see the pigeon, you will feel cheated, if that’s the case, you can choose a pair of youngsters.’ Bogaerts found that van Riel should talk to much. With a pigeon that could win in such weather, you could not be deceived.
The next day, with 5,000 Bfrs in his pocket he stood at van Riels front door. When he saw the unbelievably unsightly small cock, he handed him back and swore that he would never again buy a pigeon sight unseen. He didn’t go home with ‘het Zotteke’ but with a pair of youngsters. Two weeks later there was another race from Orleans. Again the pigeons were served a menu of hard weather and ‘het Zotteke’ was first once again…Bogaerts pulled the hair from his head and now offered 10,000 Bfs and a series of excuses. Despite the possibility of making a 100% gain in only fourteen days, the offer was turned down.
‘Het Zotteke’ was no longer for sale. His next destination was St. Vincent, a 1,000 km race. He was pooled across the board, 9 different doublings included and won everything, including National!! He brought home an amount of money unheard of at that time. Afterwards, that tiny little cock would win a3rd National Libourne, a 16th National Chateauroux and a 7th National St. Vincent, against an average of approximately 3,000 pigeons.
Not surprisingly, in the Huyskens van Riel heyday, the number of pigeons entered fell drastically. Instead of entering pigeons themselves, and being beat, they would rather wait for pigeons at Huyskens van Riel. Weekends with a hundred onlookers were no exception. One day, before the pigeons came home, a taxi pulled in and out stepped a giant of a man, making a lot of noise. It was a flight from Tours (July 6, 1947) and Huyskens van Riel had entered 6 ‘in the battle.’ The well-dressed gentleman had barely settled in when a group of ten pigeons were coming hard. Five dropped down, and their rubber bands were in the clock in a flash. One minute and twenty-seven seconds later the 6th pigeon was clocked. The viewers were much perplexed and Francois, Jef’s son, heard the giant from the taxi exclaim: ‘Amai, Amai, such a thing I have never seen Those six pigeons won, provincial 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 17 against more than 2,000 pigeons.
When Francios asked his father who that large man in the taxi was, ‘who made so much of himself.’ Jef answered: ‘keep still, little man that is Jan Marissen, a competitor.’ Little did he know at the time that in just two short years he would have to bow his to the same Marissen and his brother. The career of the brothers was equally spectacular as it was short. The year that followed they could barely fly a prize. But their super year was so super that it occupies a special chapter in the annals of the Belgian pigeon sport.
(Thanks Mr Nick from Canada)